Police officer accused of raping woman he arrested for DWI
ISLETA PUEBLO, NM (KRQE) – A New Mexico police officer is accused of raping a drunk driving suspect while taking him to jail, and the alleged victim has said she believes that ‘she had no choice, fearing he would add burdens or worse.
Leon Martin, 22, was arrested Tuesday by New Mexico State Police. They said Martin, who worked for the Isleta Police Department, admitted to having sex with the woman.
The woman reported the assault last week at a hospital.
She said she was pulled over by Martin for DWI, and on the way to jail, Martin parked his patrol car in a dark area and asked her to come over to the driver’s side. She said he took off his waistcoat and gun belt, then raped her.
Angel Charley, executive director of the Coalition to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, said that while it is frustrating that someone who has sworn to protect their community has abused this power, it is not rare.
“Rape is basically an abuse of power, and that’s basically what we see here,” Charley said. “Unfortunately, we know this is common.”
The woman said she was scared and worried that Martin would shoot her or add extra charges to her DWI case if she didn’t comply. She said Martin told her, in return, that he would speak to the judge to help lower his charges and that “if they spent more time together she would spend less time in jail and see the judge more. quickly. . ”
Days later, the woman told investigators, she tested positive for chlamydia following the alleged assault.
“Sexual misconduct by police officers is the second highest type of misconduct, just behind police brutality,” Charley said. “We know the police who do this target the most vulnerable – gender non-conforming people; in this case, someone who was under the influence, people who engage in sex work. These are populations of people who are targeted because they are perceived as less credible.
In an interview with NMSP, Martin admitted to having sex with the woman while she was under arrest, but said she initiated the meeting and he had an error in judgment.
The woman told police she recognized Martin in a previous domestic violence incident and he messaged her on Facebook afterwards. She said she felt like he was “trying to hit on her”.
Vernon Abeita, the governor of Isleta Pueblo, issued a statement confirming that Martin is no longer employed by the Pueblo.
Martin faces multiple felony charges including criminal sexual penetration, bogus imprisonment, demanding or receiving a bribe from a public official, and ethics violations.
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